How do you end a film festival? Really, it sounds simpler than it actually is.
First, understand that a film festival is a celebration of art – no, not art in the textbook, politically correct way filled with fluff and little sensibility but in a practical, daring and emotive manner wherein film becomes an amazing combination of several art forms and a jarring reminder that the arts, regardless of form and content, can be a powerful tool for deconstruction of popular social and political misgivings.
AFRIFF showed this. AFRIFF made arts lovable, inspirational and relatable. AFRIFF confirmed that art is universal, bound not by space, location and time but by human willingness to allow art show itself.
Most important of all, AFRIFF clearly proved that ‘Africa Rising’ is true – but not in the sense often touted by African politicians and leaders.
And because this is Nigeria where we have little respect for time, the final night of the film festival started late, hours late, with a deep, gruff-voiced man constantly reminding “ladies and gentle to please take your seat.”
Yet nothing was done on the part of the organisers to actually kick-start the evening, even after thirty minutes (and two more annoying “take your seats” reminders) of making the first announcement.
Finally, when the show began, it went off with a bang – literally.
A beautiful rendition of the national anthem, followed by a dance show set the night off to what would be a memorable experience and a constant questioning of whether this – an evening of awesomeness – was actually planned and put together by Nigerians notorious for subpar delivery on different fronts.
Hosts of the event, Lala Akindoju and Uti Nwachukwu complimented each other. Although it must be said that Uti Nwachukwu was more awkward than brilliant.
Coloured with jokes and quips that were tasteless at some point, Uti’s performance for the evening somehow managed to make the otherwise flawless delivery of Lala Akindoju awkward too.
Perhaps it was his over excitement, overuse of superlatives or the excessive Donald Trump jokes, Uti somehow managed to drag a beautiful event down an irredeemable path.
In between shows, winners of different award categories were called out, with ’76, 93 days and Green, White, Green sweeping through the award categories. Beneficiaries of the AFRIFF training program were also called out on stage for acknowledgment.
And because the evening was a celebration of Africans and African stories told in a unique, unexplored form, all the shows on stage that evening were musicals peppered with humor and energetic dance moves. A one scene re-enactment of widely acclaimed South Africa movie, Sarafina, was the first taste of what to come.
Adesua Etomi and Floyd Igbo gave a brilliant musical performance that was hilarious yet didactic and thoroughly entertaining.
The highlight of the evening was a Gideon Okeke-led performance on the life of Afro-beat legend, Fela Kuti.
Bulging muscles and all, Gideon Okeke delivered a mind blowing performance centered on the life and evolution of Fela Kuti that wasn’t just politically charged but emotive and funny. His rendition of Fela’s Zombie
His rendition of Fela’s Zombie was, in fact, the most electrifying performance of them all.
The performance climaxed with a re-enactment of the death of Fela’s mother. A thunderous standing ovation followed soon after.
To cap an evening marred only by Uti’s stage awkwardness, former Anambra state governor, Peter Obi, gave the closing remarks in which he reminded all that – truly, Africa was on the rise and the arts was leading this charge.
Art is beauty; AFRIFF Globe Award restated this with beautiful and passionate displays on the final night of a film festival that’s rated among the best in the continent.
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